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January 31, 2019


#Classic: Moby Dick

by N@ncy


Quickscan:    Mixture  of plots:

1. Overcoming the Monster: (the White Whale)
3. Quest: (Destroy the White Whale)
4. Voyage and Return: (whaling trip on the Pequod)
5. Comedy: (Stubb dialogue)
6. Tragedy: (Dead of Queeseg)
7. Rebirth:  Ishmael (character survives  after so many perils)
9. Rebellion against the one: (Starbuck thinks of killing Ahab to save ship/crew)



Characters:   my favorites….


  1. The narrator in the book, not only relaying the story
  2. …but going on at length about whale facts and
  3. various philosophical questions.


  1. He demonstrates that despite one’s appearance
  2. people have more in common than they believe.
  3. Queequg also brings life through death. (coffin is float for survival)


Secret motto:

  1. Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!
  2. Ahab howls these words as harpoon iron is devoured the baptismal blood.
  3. ”I baptize thee, not in the name of the Father, but in the name of the Devil.”
  4. Captain Ahab is speaking to his harpoon as it tastes whale blood for the first time.
  5. The quote is significant because Herman Melville wrote to his
  6. …friend Nathaniel Hawthorne that
  7. ..the line was the book’s secret motto.



  1. On the most basic level, the White Whale in the novel
  2. is the object of Ahab’s obsession.
  3. Everything in the plot of Moby-Dick is directed
  4. …toward the final, tragic confrontation between
  5. …Ahab, his crew, and the White Whale.
  6. The White Whale wins the fight.
  7. Ahab and nearly the entire crew of the Pequod die.
  8. The fact that the White Whale cannot be beaten
  9. ….contributes to the way it is used as a symbol.
  10. Power of Moby Dick is symbolic of God.
  11. Symbol of a force man cannot defeat.
  12. Pursuit of God: Ahab purses God in a manner driven by hate
  13. vengeance rather than something peaceful.


Last thoughts:

  1. Ch 1-54  is worth the read….but then I hit a wall!
  2. Ch 55-100….it was a ‘touch and go’ endeavor to keep reading!
  3. There’s a lot of scrimshaw and blubber!
  4. The last 30 chapters finally capture my attention again.
  5. This book would be much improved
  6. without the whaling tutorial! (ch 56)
  7. Sometimes tiresome and challenging
  8. is a compliment about a classic book.
  9. It’s like climbing a mountain….hard work
  10. …but the view is terrific when you get to the top!
  11. Now…the view from the top
  12. …wasn’t worth the hike.
  13. #YouHaveBeenWarned


My notes:

November 29, 2018

Learning some basic concepts that play an important role in Moby Dick

Metaphysical – concept focused on the theories of human nature
Transcendentalism – people and nature were inherently good
Melville mixes his love of metaphysics + adventure story.
Melville creates well rounded characters
…who have a good and a
…..”dark side” (obsession with a whale).
December 1,  2018
I know this book will be a challenge…but I am ready for it!
The first paragraph describes my start
“…whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul…”.

December 2, 2018

Slowly moving forward:

Moby Dick covers just about every concept
we read about in books: revenge, death, duty,
freewill vs fate, friendship, madness…
the book feels like the gold-standard for all other novels I’ve read!

December 6, 2018

Starting ch 28 ….now we finally meet Ahab!

December 7, 2018

30 pages a day…

December 11, 2018

Ch 70: I pushed through ch 54-70 which is more or less

a tutorial on whales, harpooning,
the blubber room and why sharks love whale meat!
Ch 1-54 is a good narrative….I expect once we get back to the conflict
…Ahab vs Moby Dick on the high seas.
..the book will recapture its adventerous tone!
December 15, 2018

Ch 94: More whaling…stay away from whale spuits,

fin back whales look similar to sperm whale.
..don’t be fooled!
Knives in blubber room are so sharp
…crew could slice off toes. Jick.
The only chapter with some narrative was
about the man on ship Jerpboam
…who thought he was the angel Gabriel.

January 9, 2019

Finshed during the Christmas holidays.

Read more from Classic
11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lisbeth Ekelöf
    Jan 31 2019

    Wow, you got it all down very well. I wanted to read this, but always thought it was a difficult read. Someone else also said that the whaling tutorial almost brings you down. I guess one can read them rather quickly or just skip them! Well done!


    • Jan 31 2019

      IMO you can skip the whaling tutorials…and continue reading the narrative.
      I think once readers come up against these chapters…they close the book!
      Just move on to the last 30 chapters! Thanks for your comments!


  2. Yay! You finished! I just LOVE that cover! If I find it, I’m definitely going to buy it. Well, I’m still hoping for Brona’s mentioned February Moby Dick read-along. I have it all ready to go and I’m excited to finally read this book that is so daunting. Thanks for the most excellent review!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jan 31 2019

      I hope you enjoy the book!


    • Feb 5 2019

      I haven’t forgotten about my readalong Cleo. I’m just not ready to get started with it yet. B18 has decided to go off to uni this year. We took him there on the w/e & B21 is planning on moving out in a couple of months. We’ve also just put my F-I-L’s house on the market finally and my job is about to change, so I’m holding fire on the blogging/readalong front until life settles down a little 🙂


  3. Feb 1 2019

    I’m pretty sure that whaling tutorial was where I punked out in high school. But then the second time like you I powered through & loved it.

    And I’m thinking about joining in on the February read if it happens, to make it 2 1/2 reads.


    • Feb 1 2019

      Admirable…I would never re-read this book.
      There are so many more classics to read.
      I was glad I finished the book!
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. 🙂


  4. Feb 5 2019

    Well done for making it through Nancy.
    I’ve picked up a copy of Philbrick’s Why Read Moby Dick to get me started, when life calms down a little –


    • Feb 6 2019

      This book was a struggle.
      Lofty in its philosophy: when analyzing Starbuck Ishmael remarks that
      “man, in the ideal, is so noble and so sparkling, such a grand and glowing creature,…”
      Tiresome in its tutorial on whales/shrimshaw
      …and it seemed endless.
      But that being said…I can cross this book off my bucket list!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Feb 5 2019

    I read this last year and it was proves review I had the most fun with because I was a bit sarcastic.

    I agree with you that the whaling lessons could be skipped and for me would have ehnaced my enjoyment of the book. Too bad I didn’t have your notes when I started.

    Here’s my review if you’d like to read it


    • Feb 6 2019

      Thanks for the link to your reveiw….I’ll have a look.
      Despite the reactions when published in 1851:
      …critics and readers didn’t quite know what to make of Moby-Dick. Melville was already an acclaimed author, but Moby-Dick defied classification.
      Critics rejected Melville’s uneven tone and irreverence for literary tradition.
      …Moby DIck has survived and it considered on of the great classics in English Literature.
      I guess I read the book…just to say I read it!



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